Odisha govt likely to consider L&T

Bhubaneswar: Global engineering giant Larsen and Toubro (L&T)’s two bauxite mines in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, for which the company holds prospecting license (PL) of the state government, are likely to come to the rescue of Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL)’s ailing Lanjigarh refinery with the Odisha government on Tuesday assured VAL to consider its ore extraction proposal from these deposits, according to an official.
“The state government has assured us to take a decision as soon as possible on our request to extract bauxite from L&T's mines,” Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal told reporters here after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the secretariat here.
Though Agarwal preferred to skip media queries on “specific time sought by the state government” to resolve the issue, the billionaire however said they are waiting for the government’s decision. L&T’s executive chairman AM Naik was also present on the occasion.
The development comes less than a year after VAL on December 5 last announced temporary closure of its 1 mtpa Lanjigarh refinery at Junagarh in Kalahandi district citing scarcity of raw material. Since then, the company has been reportedly struggling to obtain the raw material from alternative sources and is running with a capacity of 60 per cent, company officials said.
To operate at full capacity, VAL needed 300,000 tonnes of bauxite every month, they added.
Notably in 1992,  L&T had won PL for Sijimali and Kutrumali bauxite mines in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts respectively, with total deposit of close to 300 million tonnes. But two years later after the expiry of PL, the Odisha government denied ML to L&T since it had no end-use plant.
Business analysts observe, the state government’s grant of ML to L&T would come to Vedanta's rescue since it had picked up 24 per cent stake in L&T promoted Raykal Aluminium which was to implement the engineering major’s three million tonne refinery project at Rayagada.
Earlier this year, the mining conglomerate had urged the state government to expedite processing of pending applications of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), especially those bauxite leases falling under non-forest areas.
The company had also urged the state government to explore possibility of excavating bauxite from iron ore leases of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Rungta Mines which are lying abandoned and where presence of bauxite has been proven.